A sailor on a charity quest around the country rescued four teenagers from a notorious stretch of Norfolk coastline, saving them from being cut off by the tide.

Ken Fowler, 56, is circumnavigating more than 251 islands off the coast of England and Wales to raise money for Cancer Research.


On Sunday evening the retired air traffic controller was in his 12ft dinghy Yoda at Scolt Head Island, near Brancaster, when he saw three boys and a girl in distress.

"These kids were running frantically along the sandbank shouting and waving," he said. "They said: 'We're stuck here, can you rescue us?"

Eastern Daily Press: Ken Fowler on his dinghy YodaKen Fowler on his dinghy Yoda (Image: Ken Fowler)

Mr Fowler, from Bournemouth, picked up a young girl and ferried her across to the safety of Brancaster beach.

"She was completely petrified," he said. "When she got on board, she said she couldn't swim. I was shocked at just how disturbed she was and it took a lot of reassurance to calm her down."

Eastern Daily Press: One of the stranded teenagers being ferried ashore on Ken Fowler's dinghyOne of the stranded teenagers being ferried ashore on Ken Fowler's dinghy (Image: Ken Fowler)

After coaxing her off the boat into shallow water close to the shore, Mr Fowler picked two of her companions, while a windsurfer ferried the fourth teenager to safety.

He said the incident, which could have had a tragic ending, underlined the risks posed by the tides at Scolt.

"I've sailed all around the country, I've sailed a lot of places," he said. "This was the 239th out of the 251 islands I've sailed around and the first emergency I've seen.

Eastern Daily Press: Scolt Head seen from Ken Fowler's dinghyScolt Head seen from Ken Fowler's dinghy (Image: Scolt Head)

"One of the most amazing things about sailing round Scolt Head Island was the ferocity and speed of the tides, how quickly the land fills."

Each summer, Hunstanton lifeboat receives almost daily call-outs to rescue people trapped by the rising tide at Scolt and other sandbanks.

The most dangerous time is during the so-called spring tides which occur for a few days each month around the new moon.

As well as going out a lot further on the ebb, the tide returns quickly and rises higher when it comes back in again.

Mr Fowler is undertaking his island challenge in an RS Aero, a single-handed sailing dinghy.

He started his quest a couple of years ago, with the aim of sailing around all the islands off the coast of England and Wales.

He defines an island as one that is permanently visible at high tide and at least 30m in length.

A previous challenge saw him sail 865 miles from Land's End to John O Groats.

His JustGiving page is called yodare-cancerresearch.